All about MySQL

PHP + MySQL is a classic. Access & configure the common database on fortrabbit.

Obtain the MySQL password

You can look up the MySQL password in the Dashboard > Your App > Access.

Look up the MySQL password for {{app-name}}

Access MySQL from your App

Usually there is a configuration file which is used from the App to connect to the database. This is what you need to fill in there:

  • Database Name: {{app-name}}
  • Database Username: {{app-name}}
  • Database Password: {{app-database-password}} < how to recover
  • Database Host: {{app-name}}.mysql.{{region}} < not localhost
  • Database Port: 3306 (usually not required)

If possible, we recommend to use MySQL env vars instead of hard coding them into your configuration files. The automatically available environment variables are:

  • MYSQL_DATABASE: Database name
  • MYSQL_USER: Database username
  • MYSQL_PASSWORD: Database password
  • MYSQL_HOST: Database host
  • MYSQL_PORT: Database port

To give you an example on how to use the environment variables:

$pdo = new \PDO(
    'mysql:host='. getenv('MYSQL_HOST'). ';dbname='. getenv('MYSQL_DATABASE'),
$pdo->query("SELECT * FROM ...")

See our specific examples for: Laravel, Symfony, WordPress, Craft CMS.

Access MySQL database from local

Whether you want to run a query on your live database or you want to dump your whole database: you need to access the MySQL database on fortrabbit remotely. For security reasons you cannot connect to the MySQL database from "outside" directly, but you can open a SSH tunnel and then connect to the MySQL database through this tunnel.

If you haven't: you need to obtain your MySQL password. Next you can decide upon using a graphical user interface or the terminal:


We recommend the free MySQL Workbench (Mac/Linux/Windows). There is also Navicat (also multi-platform), HeidiSQL for Windows and Sequel Pro for Mac. And a host of others.

All clients have connection presets that help you to establish the SSH tunnel and the MySQL connection in one convenient step. In the connection info you will insert all the SSH access information and the MySQL connection information.

To give you an idea of how the access details should be inserted, here an example using MySQL Workbench:

  • Create a new connection with Connection Method set to Standard TCP/IP over SSH, then:
  • SSH Hostname: deploy.{{region}}
  • SSH Username: {{ssh-user}}
  • SSH Password: {{ssh-password}}
  • SSH Keyfile: No needYour local SSH private key
  • MySQL Hostname: {{app-name}}.mysql.{{region}}
  • MySQL Server Port: 3306
  • Username: {{app-name}}
  • Password: Look it up in the Dashboard
  • Default Schema: {{app-name}}

Note: The MySQL hostname will not be or localhost — it's the remote server: {{app-name}}.mysql.{{region}}


For security and practical reasons we consider it bad practice to install phpMyAdmin on your fortrabbit App. However, you can also manage the remote MySQL with a local phpMyAdmin installation. Add an additional server configuration to your local phpMyAdmin file like so:

$cfg['Servers'][$i]['verbose']       = '{{app-name}}';
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['host']          = '';
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['port']          = '13306'; // like specified in the tunnel command (see below)
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['connect_type']  = 'tcp';
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['extension']     = 'mysqli';
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['compress']      = FALSE;
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['auth_type']     = 'cookie';

Then open a terminal tunnel, then visit your local phpMyAdmin in the browser. You now can select your fortrabbit App. You will be asked for the MySQL user "{{app-name}}" and password. Usinf a local phpMyAdmin with your remote database requires you to always open a tunnel first - a MySQL GUI might be the better choice.

MySQL via terminal

If you are familiar with the shell then this is no biggie. Issue this in your terminal:

# open a tunnel on local port 13306 < arbitrary, choose between 10000-65000
$ ssh -N -L 13306:{{app-name}}.mysql.{{region}} {{ssh-user}}@tunnel.{{region}}

This command will not reply with any message on success! If nothing shows up: you did right! This behavior is how SSH clients are implemented and sadly we cannot issue any positive response message.

Once the tunnel is up, you can connect to the remote MySQL database with the mysql console client. Open a new window terminal window and issue:

# connect to the database < use, not localhost
$ mysql -u{{app-name}} -h127.0.0.1 -P13306 -p {{app-name}}

In the next step you will be asked for your MySQL password.

Export & import

A common task is to move your MySQL data around, e.g. if you are migrating to fortrabbit or you are about to set up a staging environment. All following examples show you how to export data from your local machine and import it into your App's database on fortrabbit. It works the same, with swapped login details, for the other way around.

Using MySQL Workbench (GUI)

Export from local:

  1. Open Workbench
  2. Setup your local database connection
  3. Open your local database connection
  4. Choose: Server > Data Export from the menu
  5. Select your local database name
  6. Make sure to "Dump Structure and Data" (select below the database name listing)
  7. Choose a local destination file
  8. Start the export

Import to fortrabbit:

  1. Open Workbench
  2. Create a new connection as shown above
  3. Open the newly created remote database connection
  4. Choose: Server > Data Import from the menu
  5. Choose your previously generated dump file
  6. Make sure to select your App name in the Default Target Schema
  7. Start the import

Using the terminal

Using mysqldump and mysql is the standard approach to migrate a database between two MySQL servers from the shell. First of start by exporting your data from your local database:

# on your local machine or on the old server
$ mysqldump -uyour-local-db-user -pyour-local-db-password your-local-db-name > dump.sql

Now you need to open a tunnel and import the just created dump file into your database. This requires two terminal windows: One containing the open tunnel, the other to execute the import.

# open the tunnel
$ ssh -N -L 13306:{{app-name}}.mysql.{{region}} {{ssh-user}}@tunnel.{{region}}

# !!! in a new terminal window !!!
# import the dump
$ mysql -h127.0.0.1 -P13306 -u{{app-name}} -p {{app-name}} < dump.sql


You can export and import a large, single table with the following example:

# on your local machine or on the old server
$ echo 'SELECT * FROM tablename;' | mysql database-name > tablename.sql

# import everything via a tunnel to yourfortrabbit MySQL database
$ mysql --local-infile=1 -h127.0.0.1 -P13306 -u{{app-name}} -p {{app-name}}

# on the mysql shell
$ mysql> LOAD DATA LOCAL INFILE '/path/to/tablename.sql' INTO TABLE tablename;

Note: You will be asked to enter your App's database password. Look it up in the Dashboard.

Local MySQL

This article describes how to deal with the fortrabbit remote MySQL database. You might want to have a local one as well. Please see our local development article.

Advanced usage

Different time zone

MySQL has time zone support Our nodes default to the standard time zone "UTC". If you want to change this time zone, you can do so on a "per connection" basis.

There are two approaches to tackle this issue: handle the time zone on application level or handle the time zone on database level. Each has its merits and which one is better strongly depends on the use case. This article shows you how to set the time zone in the database.

Setting time zone in plain (My)SQL

The syntax to change the time zone is:

-- set time zone to +3 hours
SET time_zone = '+03:00';

-- set time zone to -7 hours
SET time_zone = '-07:00';

You can query the current time zone like so:

SELECT @@session.time_zone;

Setting time zone with PDO

PDO offers configurable options when setting up the connection. One of them allows you to issue commands right after initialization (connection).

$pdo = new PDO(
    'mysql:host='. getenv('MYSQL_HOST'). ';dbname='. getenv('MYSQL_DATABASE'),
        PDO::MYSQL_ATTR_INIT_COMMAND => 'SET time_zone = \'+02:00\''

Resetting the MySQL password

Instead of looking up the existing MySQL password, you can also reset it. Do so in the Dashboard > Your App > Access > MySQL. Please mind that this comes with consequences:

  • Unless your are using env vars: You'll need to change the password in your App's configuration files
  • Your coworkers need to change their password in their locally configured remote access tools (see below)

Differences between Professional and Universal

All Universal Apps automatically come with a MySQL database. For Professional Apps, MySQL is an optional Component. There you can scale it up and down individually.

Further readings

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